LINCOLN, Maine – A higher salary helped lure one of the town’s police officers to another department, Police Chief William Lawrence said Thursday.
Officer Jeff Rice will get $2 more per hour to work for the Hampden Police Department. Detective David Cram, who is also leaving the Lincoln Police Department, will take a slight pay cut as he relocates to his hometown area of East Millinocket, Lawrence said.
Past police chiefs have said low salaries were a chronic problem in Lincoln, which has seven full-time officers. The lure of higher salaries offered by other municipalities helped lead to the turnover of the department’s entire roster several years ago.
But Lawrence said that Lincoln’s salary range, $16-$20 per hour for beginning to experienced officers, is relatively competitive with most departments in the region.
“With overtime, officers here can earn $60,000 to $65,000 a year,” Lawrence said Wednesday. “That is more than some [departments] offer.”
Also the town’s interim town manager, Lawrence said he will proceed with the hiring of replacements for Rice and Cram, but was concerned that Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to cut all revenue sharing with municipalities over the next two years could imperil his plans.
The first replacement would be hired in eight to 12 weeks, he said.
Rice gave his two-week notice last week. Lawrence thanked both officers for their service.
“Jeff has been with us for over three years and has done a great job,” Lawrence said.
East Millinocket Police Chief Cameron McDunnah said he could not immediately comment on Cram’s hiring.
Cram joined the department in June 2011. He became the department’s sole detective late that year. Lawrence has said he picked the 11-year veteran for the position because he has more than a decade of experience as an East Millinocket and Lincoln police officer.
Cram has developed good working relationships within the department and the district attorney’s office and shown himself to be a hard and painstaking worker, Lawrence also said.
Most recently, Cram has been investigating the reported theft of $8,200 from a local Boy Scout troop, a burglary in which cash was stolen from a Subway restaurant, and proved unfounded allegations that an education technician at Ella P. Burr School had allegedly grabbed a 7-year-old pupil and forced her onto a school bus seat during the girl’s dispute with other students.